15-day build homes could revolutionise the industry in Northern Ireland
A Co Londonderry firm has claimed it could modernise house-building by putting up new homes in just 15 days. FastHouse, which is part of the Lagan Group, said its off-site home-building programme cut construction times by more than two-thirds on average.
It also claimed it could bring the concept of prefab homes into the 21st century.
Such buildings were championed in the 1940s as a way of addressing the UK's chronic housing shortage after the Second World War.
FastHouse completed its first project for Lagan Homes on Friday, with construction of semi-detached properties in Windrush Park, Co Antrim, taking just 15 working days.
Houses built using traditional methods can take up to 16 weeks or more. Modular construction involves bits of the building being made off-site and then being brought together.
FastHouse claimed its brick finishes made their houses virtually indistinguishable from those built traditionally.
The homes are made using timber frames that leave the factory insulated, with service conduits and electrical boxes installed and windows pre-fitted and dry lined.
The benefits include less waste and lower labour and material costs.
FastHouse employs 30 people in Limavady and was founded less than two years ago.
Conor Mulligan, managing director of Lagan Homes, said he believed the innovative building method could help solve the local shortage of houses.
"We are all aware of the housing crisis in Northern Ireland and we can see first-hand the contribution FastHouse has been able to make to this development at Windrush Park," he added.
"By building quality homes in an efficient way, FastHouse will significantly speed up housing provision in Northern Ireland, as well as advancing the sustainability agenda.
"For the builder, in this climate of limited bank lending, the ability to increase turnover of work in progress capital from three times a year to perhaps 10 times a year will have substantial appeal."
Stephen Bell, managing director of FastHouse, added: "The more traditional construction methods have changed very little over the decades because of the conservative nature of the industry.
"Even the use of traditional timber frame construction in Northern Ireland only accounts for 15% of new build homes, compared to 33% in England, and 75% in Scotland."